Book Review: The Last Full Measure by Ann Rinaldi

As Confederate and Union soldiers take over their town, the local residents can do little more than hunker down in their homes while cannon and gunfire explode around them. But the battles are not only fought between soldiers. At home, fourteen-year-old Tacy and her disabled brother lock horns as David struggles with his desire to go to war. He has strong principles, and it tortures him to allow others to fight while he does nothing.

In the aftermath of this great and terrible battle, in which so many soldiers sacrifice their lives for their beliefs, David gives his last full measure…and leaves Tacy struggling to make sense out of it all.

This was my first time reading Ann Rinaldi and I had no idea what to expect.  I really enjoyed this book!  I see that she has written forty novels---it looks like I've found a new author.  Most of her work is historical fiction, which is right up my alley. 

I have not read anything on Gettysburg before and I appreciated the research Rinaldi did to write The Last Full Measure.  I even read the author's note at the end of the book, something I very rarely do.  The bibliography was impressive---I like reading a book where I know that the author completed extensive research in order to write the book.

Now, on to the story.  Tacy is 14 years old and her father and older brothers are serving in the Union army.  She is left at home with her mother and older brother, David, who cannot fight due to a crippled leg.  They live in Gettysburg during the battle and invasion of the city by rebel forces.  David struggles with frustration over not being able to fight like his brothers.  The result is a very controlling unforgiving personality. 

David grows some throughout the book and reestablishes his relationship with Tacy.  I also enjoyed David's love story.  Just when I thought that this book would end a certain way, Rinaldi dropped a huge "DREAMS SHATTERED" on the reader and went in a different direction with the books' ending.  I do think David's decision in the end was in keeping with his character.  I also like how the book ends not with the conclusion of the war, but with the natural ending of Tacy and David's stories.

If you like historical fiction, or if you like reading about familial relationships, I would recommend The Last Full Measure.  It is a quick read that is definitely worth your time.

Just One Gripe: 
Tacy is so stubborn and willful!

The Best Thing About This Book: 
Learning another perspective on the Civil War.

Appropriate for a younger audience: 
Yes, although there are some gory parts, having to do with the aftermath of battle.

Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Setting/Imagery: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Ending: 4/5
Total Score:  18/25

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